Through only three matches this season, the New York Red Bulls have already undergone significant adversity. After the team lost their first two games against Canadian sides Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact, the Red Bulls pulled off an improbable comeback vs. the Houston Dynamo.
In spite of the victory though, the Red Bulls lost three players to hamstring injuries, which especially depleted the team’s backline. The Red Bulls will be without Ronald Zubar and Gideon Baah, both of whom exited the match against the Dynamo, when they take on the New England Revolution on Friday night.
Additionally, starting left back Kemar Lawrence is questionable heading into the clash with the Revolution following an injury sustained while on international duty with Jamaica.
While the team has certainly been exposed to challenges early on this season, captain Dax McCarty believes that the side’s recent bye week provides the Red Bulls with an opportunity to improve upon their early-season deficiencies.
“It was good for some guys to rest their injuries,” McCarty said. “I still don’t think we’ll have the full compliment of players available to us but it was good to work on some things that we haven’t done so well the first couple weeks of the season and get guys some good rest over the bye.”
With the Red Bulls defense ailing, Karl Ouimette, Chris Duvall and rookie Zach Carroll will all be in the mix for a starting role this weekend.
While the bye week was an important period for the Red Bulls to rejuvenate, the side faced local New Jersey school Rutgers University for a scrimmage. The friendly allowed the squad to work on several key game situations that they have struggled with early in the new MLS season, including trying to break opposition who pack numbers behind the ball.
“It was good to push our fitness,” McCarty said. “It was good playing a team who sits in a bit so we can deal with teams better when they do that, either when they come to Red Bull Arena or when they play us away from home. It was a good attacking exercise. We scored a couple of goals and we need to be sharper in the attacking third, so it was a good game for that.”
The Red Bulls led the league in goals scored in 2015, with 62, but went scoreless in their opening two matches before breaking out for four goals against the Dynamo. With Gonzalo Veron still nursing an injury, the team will have to rely on Mike Grella and Lloyd Sam on the wings to fill that void.
With many of the league’s better recognized teams struggling to start the season, Friday’s meeting with the Revolution presents an important opportunity for both teams to break out of their respective slow starts.
The Revolution, who have yet to win a game in their opening four matches, are not to be taken lightly, according to Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch. The side is coming off of a valiant 1-1 draw against New York City FC, in which midfielder Gershon Koffie was shown a questionable red card just after halftime.
Marsch has emphasized the importance of his team starting well, especially against a hungry side like the Revolution who will be looking to capitalize in front of their home fans.
“They are just trying to get their form underneath them,” Marsch said. “We know that they are very good team and a very dangerous one. Just because they haven’t been scoring we don’t take them lightly and we don’t want to be the team that they open the gates on.We’ll make sure that going on the road we are stout defensively we feel strongly that we’ll have chances and be able to put them away.”